Saturday, 16 April 2016


Professor Chidi Anselm Odinkalu has indicated his interest in the presidency of USOSA (Umbrella body for Unity Schools Association) come 23rd April 2015.
Chidi Anselm Odinkalu’s tenure as Chairman of the Governing Council of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission has only recently ended has been described by leading African newsweekly as “a leading member of the new generation of African legal minds” while others see him as “one of Africa’s leading human rights lawyers.''

Odinkalu was called to the bar in 1988. His first degree also in Law from the Imo State University, his Master’s Degree in law from the University of Lagos while he received his Ph.D. in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). 

He has authored four books and over 40 other scholarly articles. He is an authority on international law, including human rights, international institutional law and international economic laws affecting African countries. He is a visiting Professor of law at the International Criminal Law Centre at the Open University of Tanzania, and was formerly Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge Massachusetts and Brandeis International Fellow at the International Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at the Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
He is a member of many board of Directors and at other times trustee and yet other times adviser.
A member of the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association since 2005, Odinkalu was also the Co-coordinator of its Practice Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) from 2006-2010 and is also currently a trustee of the Human Rights Institute of the NBA (NBA—HRI).
He is married with two children.
It became necessary to interview him on why he wants to the President of USOSA.
Please find his interview below;

Q: Why do you want to be USOSA President?
A: Thank you for that question. It's pretty straightforward really. Education is the guarantor of our coexistence as a people & of our safety and security as a country and as individuals. Sustaining enlightenment through education is the biggest challenge facing our country. The challenges we confront as a people as mighty existential: our population is rising incredibly, economic growth can't keep up with population growth. We are endangered. Only education can save us. But we are not investing enough it. So our unity is endangered. The Unity Schools were established to help keep us together through enlightenment of the best quality. That places every one of us who got it under a duty to do their bit with what the country gave us. USOSA is the greatest network of enlightened Nigerians in this country. If you can mobilise them to defend our unity and defend education, we can't fail. That's it really. We have huge potentials to make a difference at USOSA and I believe the time is right to unleash those potentials. I'm presenting a platform that offers us a pathway to do just that and a bit more.  

Q: What plans do you have for USOSA?
A: The central promise of my platform is 3Rs:
Re-tool USOSA to make it a fit-for-purpose organisation
Regenerate public education with USOSA as a principal advocate; and
Renew Nigeria's unity through USOSA's networks.
There are many ways we can achieve these and measure our achievements. Presently only 39 or 37.5% of the 104 Unity Schools are registered with us. This is not good enough. We have to address the fiscal health of the organisation; enhance our membership base exponentially. Bring USOSA's operations into the digital age; become a force in education reform advocacy; offer a deal to the young schools in the network to attract their energies; involve not just member alumni but also class sets in our network; find a role and relevance for our colleagues in the Diaspora & ensure accountability in the deployment of assets in the education sector in Nigeria. These are easily doable.      

Q: You will agree with me that unity schools are no longer the way they were few years ago what do you think can be done to restore them to glory?

A: It's easy to think the best of our future is in our past. But no country makes progress like that. Back to the future isn't necessarily progress. We can't sit and offer fatuous nostalgia to our kids, regaling them with tales of how things were all so better in our time. We need to care about the constraints and challenges the kids and schools face these days and we have to offer affirmative alternatives, not merely bricks and mortar. We must also see the opportunities available today & quip them to use these optimally. Look, in my time we had no Google, no computers, no tablets, no online resources. Today, these make the libraries of our time hollow. But they can also be distractions. So we have to impart skills to our kids & prepare them for a world of digital distractions. Why are the schools struggling? It is not just Unity Schools that at struggling to be fair. Every other aspect of Nigerian patrimony is endangered. So it's about also reclaiming our country from people and forces determined to kill it and kill enlightenment with it. To this task, products of Unity Schools bring unique skills: we are the biggest network Nigerians left. The environment offers new possibilities. We can also do more with less - we can build new partnerships: with government; private sector; voluntary sector; ICT providers; philanthropies; Diaspora. So there are exciting opportunities too. 

Q: A lot of old students are not interested in USOSA how do you intend to awaken their interest?
A: our challenge is to offer them a good reason to get involved. There are inherent and instrumental reasons; altruistic as well as selfish reasons for alumni to get involved. USOSA is at once a network, catalyser, connector, convener, market place, advocate and lots more. Anyone who is interested will find an interest in it to hold their attention. The business of the Association should be to showcase these on an enough scale to get all alumni salivating for it. I'm committed to ensuring we achieve universal coverage of all 104 Unity schools in the lifetime of the next USOSA executive.
Q. Someone remarked that the best people to lead NIGERIA are Unity School products do you agree with them?
A. Yes I do. But that was more true of the past than it is now. In the past, only supposed never-do-wells went to private schools in Nigeria. Today, only never-do- wells supposedly go to public schools. We have so diminished public schools, they have lost respect. Yet, we all, members of USOSA, are products of the public school system. So we need to argue the case for a serviceable public education system because each of us is evidence of a public education system that worked.
A: You were in Human Rights Commission what was your experience?
A: the human rights commission taught me that Nigerians are overwhelmingly terrific people and respond very well to leadership and service. I also came away from the Commission believing that persons who have value to offer can't run away from the responsibility of service because if and when we do, we make it more likely that the country would end up in vile, wrong hands. 

Q. How will you use your different experiences for the good of USOSA?

A: education is a human right under our laws and around the world. Whether it is access to education or rights in education, or financing or standards of regulation, making sure that we have a viable public education system should be the primary business USOSA. We must do more than just hawk nostalgia for halcyon. So, the opportunity to lead USOSA is a logical continuation of advocacy for rights and for dignity. But even more, it is an opportunity to put my networks at the disposal of renewing and rebuilding the school system that punched my meal ticket to life. It's a privilege to serve and to seek to make a difference.

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